When we think of patience, we often think about telling somebody to wait. "Be patient," a parent might tell a child. And this is how we typically think of this word. However, when it comes to God, patience is far deeper than just telling someone to wait. So what does patience really mean? Why is this a part of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5? These are the questions that we are seeking because, after all, isn't God's definition of patience far greater than anything we could define?
PRECURSOR TO PATIENCE
As we’ve mentioned numerous times during this series, the fruit of the Spirit is something that needs to be understood starting with self-control and working up the list, ultimately ending with the love of God. In the case of understanding what patience is and how it works in our life, understanding the first 5 concepts first is not only important, but paramount. Without self-control, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and kindness, then patience is not something that we will ever understand, nor exhibit. Therefore, without patience, we have no hope at being at peace, living in the joy of the Lord, or truly knowing the love of God. Since the Bible tells us that God is love, I think it is paramount to not only learn about patience, but to allow it to become our very character and nature.
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
1 John 4:8
AN ILLUSTRATION OF PATIENCE
The verses in the Bible that we looked at in this Speed Art video comes from the book of James. A brilliant and well-laid out depiction of patience is given to us. Therefore, let’s take a moment to observe those verses in greater detail.
“Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door.”
The first insight into this section comes from the word “brothers” used twice within this passage. This should be a clue to us that James is writing and giving insight specifically to those people who are believers and followers of the risen Lord Jesus. This is important to understand because it’s very easy in life to claim a belief as a “Christian” yet have a character that is anything but patient. Therefore, the wording that was chosen should be a litmus test for us. Do we exemplify the nature of the Spirit of God in our lives? Does our definition of Christianity rest on the hinges of being a church-goer? Where is the evidence of truly being a brother or sister in Christ? If you actually think about it, what does the term “brother” even imply?
Well, in physical terms, two or more people are brothers if they share the same paternal lineage. The same is true with God. If God is truly your Father through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and somebody else has the same “saved-by-grace through faith” relationship with God (Ephesians 2:8-9), then you share the same spiritual Father. This is the same Father Jesus would pray to and constantly seek the will of. Therefore, in Christ, you are now brothers and sisters because God becomes your Father. If the believers in Christ are brothers in unity of the Spirit, through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3), then we should all have the same attitude, nature and character. If God is patient, than shouldn’t our nature fall in suit with that?
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
WHAT IS PATIENCE?
Before we go any further, I think its important to now understand what patience really is. After all, James is telling us fellow believers that we should be patient until the coming of our Lord. In the New Testament Greek there are 2 dominant words for patience. Although they hold many similarities, they do have their distinct differences. One word for patience is a word that denotes endurance and longsuffering in regards to situations and circumstances. The other word also denotes endurance and longsuffering, yet is in regard to people. It is this latter definition that is listed in Galatians 5, and that is what we will be focusing on with this Speed Art video.
In the verse from James listed above, you will notice that we began with verse 7. However, if we were to go back and review verses 1 through 6, you would see James writing a warning to people who are rich and oppress others with their money and high positions of authority. And right after that, we see James writing that we as believers should be patient, meaning that the oppression of other people is guaranteed in life and we should endure and longsuffer through it. Especially as a person living a holy and pure life in Christ. Do we not expect the oppressions to come? Did Jesus not warn us that we would be persecuted because he was persecuted?
“Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”
Wasn’t Jesus patient as he endured the mocking, flogging, brutal beatings, false accusations, and execution on the cross? Here was a man who taught love, served others, took nothing for himself, and committed no sin. However he endured the horrific torture of a criminal by hanging on the cross. Here is how Paul describes it in the 3rd chapter of Galatians:
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'”
And how did Jesus endure through his entire time of ministry? How did he longsuffer through an existence where people wanted him as a welfare system more so than a savior and Lord? The answer is that he was constantly focused and in tune with the will of his Father in heaven. He made no hasty decisions based on emotions, which is something that trips us all up. We tend to view view life from a lens of what is being done right or wrong to us. In doing so, we lose the focus on the Father and then erupt in emotion. This is what happens when we focus on our own desires rather than on what pleases the Lord. After all, if we truly are children of God, shouldn’t we want to focus more on what pleases Him rather than ourselves (Ephesians 5:8-10)?
With that being said, let’s now look at the illustration James gives us!
PATIENCE FOR THE LORD’S COMING
As outlined in our verses from James, it starts off in verse 7 by telling us that the true believers in Jesus will be patient until the Lord’s coming. As mentioned in the speed art video, the word “coming” in the Greek is a word that denotes “being in the presence of, being alongside of, or being beside of”. So what God is telling us through James is that the patience we have in life, the reason we endure through the oppressions of mankind, is for no other reason than to be in the presence of the Lord. As a believer, this is the attitude of patience breathed into us by the Holy Spirit of God. It was the same attitude Jesus had, which points out 2 amazing facts:
- Jesus was always tuned into the will of the Father because in being as such, he was connected to the presence of the Father through the Spirit of God. This is an incredible illustration for us as people; an illustration of what we were designed to be before sin entered the world. Jesus was the ultimate example of the desire of what our hearts and minds should be set to in order to be the living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1-2) that we are called to be as true believers.
- The heartbreaking part of this realization comes when our sins were nailed upon Jesus on that cross. Being that the Father is holy and cannot have sin be in His presence, our innate sinful nature not only separated us from God’s presence, but it did the same to Jesus while on the cross. As it went dark for the final 3 hours of Jesus’ time on the cross, we see the fact that the Father could not even look upon his own Son because of our sin. We see Jesus cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:33-34). This moment had to be a bitter one for Jesus. He had always been in the fullness of the glory of the Lord until this moment was complete. It’s also why he states “I’m thirsty” while on the cross. He was emptied from everything he had always known. So the next time we want to live selfishly, operate in emotion and not patience, claim to be Christians yet live a life that is unpleasing to the Lord, and ultimately just keep the control of life in our own hands, let us remember what our sin did for Jesus on that cross. It wasn’t just the brutality of death that we caused, but the only way for us to be imputed to his righteousness was for him to be imputed to our sinfulness. That alone should be a driving factor to get our business straight with the Lord today.
With these points in mind, shouldn’t being in the Lord’s presence be the driving factor that moves and guides us today? Wouldn’t that be worth enduring and longsuffering through the people of this life? As illustrated in the picture by the man who is having sand dumped on him by the people of the world, his focus never leaves the horizon line, where his gaze is fixed on the light of the risen sun. Not only will focusing on the light of the sun help you to stand firm amidst the sands of life, but the example of your patience for others can be the very thing to brings someone to a knowledge and understanding of who the Lord Jesus truly is. Let’s talk more about that now.
PATIENCE POINTS TO VALUE
The illustration of the farmer given to us in James chapter 5 is one that points out 2 different facets to patience:
- Waiting on the land
- Patience for the rains
As I mentioned at the beginning of this write-up, we tend to use the word “patience” when we want to tell someone to wait. However, in the Greek text in James, the word for “waits for” when describing the farmer waiting on the land to produce, is not the same word in the Greek as the word “patient” when talking about the farmer being patient for the rains. What’s the difference, you might ask? Great question! Let’s look at that now.
The term “waits for” is a word of expectation and hope. This denotes the fact that the farmer expects, and knows that the land can and will produce a valuable crop. After all, God designed the land to do just that. However, the “patience” required is for the autumn and spring rains. This shows us that the farmer will endure and longsuffer through the toil of working the land, removing weeds, scattering seed, protecting the crop to come, the long summer days, the heat of the sun, all with patience. The farmer will never lose his focus on the Lord, knowing that it is the Lord – and the Lord only – who can send the rains. He will praise God in the droughts just as he praises God in the rains. He will endure the oppressions of landowners, masters, tenants, and the like, never losing the character of the Spirit of God. The farmer will hold to the promises of God. Just as it is written in the Old Testament:
“So if you faithfully obey the commands I m giving you today – to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul – then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil.”
As we can see, there is a distinct difference between “waiting” and “patience”. I hope that we are now seeing the importance to both. In life, we wait and have hope for things. For example, we have hope in the salvation to come through the Lord Jesus. Do we have that salvation already? Of course not. As long as we are in these non-resurrected bodies, we only have the hope of our salvation, just like the farmer who waits for the land to produce valuable crop. If we tie these two thoughts together, we should hopefully start to see that our hope in life should be about salvation, once again pointing towards being in the presence of God, in the full glory of the Lord. This should be our “valuable crop”. This should be the heart of a believer, fleshed out in a farming illustration.
What is valuable to you today? Do you find your hope and value in money, a job, a title, a position of authority, popularity, the number of friends on Facebook, alcohol, your church, politics, a house, or some other perishable thing? In the book of Philippians, Paul makes a statement about the value in his own life which is a wonderful example to us all.
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”
Paul lays it out very poignantly for us that he no longer found value in anything prior to his encounter with the Lord Jesus. And Paul was a man who had a lot that he could boast about. Just read the verses prior to the ones listed above and you will see that if anyone had reason to find value in the things of the world, it was him. Yet he considers them all “rubbish”, as he writes. That word “rubbish” can be translated in the Greek to a word of garbage and manure. He literally thought of everything in his life, other than Christ, to literally be poop. Nothing had value to him other than Christ. Elsewhere he writes,
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
A big problem with the church world today, is that the pews are filled with people who run down front, say a prayer, and than carry on with their life any way they so choose. They might become more loyal to their pastor and to serve in the church, but they hold to their old life as if nothing was ever wrong with it. They see Christianity like a vacation they go on for a while, enjoy while the getting is good, and then plan their return back to the old life like they’re returning back home. Paul however shows us that a life with Christ is about having a new home and allowing the old one to burn to the ground. The only thing he took with him was Christ. Another illustration of this can be seen when Jesus would send out the disciples. He would advise them to take nothing with them except for the clothes on their backs (Matthew 10:5-10). Why? Because they were to learn that the value was no longer found in what they wanted. Instead, true value is found in the need. And since Christ Jesus is the only way out of eternal judgment and into the presence of God, he is truly all we need.
When Christ is your value, what else do you really need? The heart of this Perhaps Today community has always been centered around the statement that “Christ is sufficient. Love is enough!” That is where a true, overcoming believer in Jesus Christ will reside and cling to. It is our hope. It is the value we wait to have fulfilled when we are finally in the presence of the Lord. Nothing else matters outside of Christ because anything outside of Christ is in darkness.
According to the 9th chapter of the book of Romans, we see a clear depiction of the patience of God. And why does He demonstrate such patience with those who are bent on destruction? He does it in love for us, who in Christ, are destined for his mercy! God’s patience means salvation for us. His patience is so that we can see the riches of his glory. Why will you show patience in the face of great oppression? For the love of God? To show his mercy to those who need to see it? Or are we too preoccupied with life being done our way and according to our purposes, that we forget that we are designed for a greater, heavenly purpose.
Thanks for following along with the lesson for the Patience Bible Speed Art video. I am so thankful that you have stopped by today and read through this. I hope it moves your heart the way writing this has moved mine. If you are in need of prayer, please do not hesitate to Contact Us today so we can better serve you in prayer. And don’t forget to use those social media share buttons so that the gospel message of hope and salvation can be shared with many. The message of Jesus Christ is meant to be shared, and we will share it, because we are the church.